In the topmost branches of Magpie Wood we casually counted about 40 Magpies still fast asleep in the Land of Nod, there could have been more but it’s difficult to see past the branches and twigs of first couple of rows of trees. Wonder if any of these are the same ones as seen by Cindy from a certain message board. Checking the tower we saw that one of the Peregrines had got itself tucked tight in against the comms cable ducting in an attempt to keep out of last night’s torrents of rain.
A little further on still and we heard our first Wren for a while chittering away on the edge of the Golden Triangle, a Robin was ticking from deeper in the dense cover there too. This morning was turning into a far better wildlife safari than we had hoped for and there was more to come. On the home straight Frank veered off on to the grass and sniffed a blob tight against the bottom of the fence – sure enough he had found Mr Snuffles again. There were quiet a few slugs and snails on the paths so our Hedgehog should be having no problems feeding and getting up to the necessary 600g needed to successfully survive hibernation and have enough reserves left to start feeding next spring. The forecast (so far as they can tell – still reckon that for all their rinky-dinky computers they are no more than 36 hours ahead of that guy with his string of seaweed!) is for mild and damp for the coming week so he should have a few more nights of good feeding opportunities left before the big sleep.
We even managed a decent, fully quarter of an hour, Patch 2 safari this morning...things are deffo looking up and the gloom and depression is easing. Patch 2 wasn’t as good as Patch 1 had been earlier but it was still good to get out and see something through the scope.
There were at least 100 Common Scoters scattered about in small flocks and the usual flighty singles going to a ‘better’ patch of sea. One got the blood pumping! On odd occasions the morning light catches their wings and they appear to have a patch of white... this morning was one of those mornings but as is 999.99% of the time as the bird winged round it was as plain as the nose on your face that it was just that – plain, not a sniff of white...no Velvet Scoter for us...yet.
Over the sea a young Lesser Black Backed Gull was being followed by three Black Headed Gulls when suddenly it dropped to the surface almost Gannet-like having seen something of interest. The Black Heads followed suit and the four of them were milling around for a few minutes and pulled in a few more gulls curious to investigate what they had found...no idea what it was, we didn’t see them pick anything up.
A Black Headed Gull on the beach was having some success finding live shells in the large strandline wreck. Surprisingly this was the only bird investigating this potentially large food store. A Redshank was flushed from one of the nearer pools by a guy setting off down the beach to fish the low tide; a dozen Oystercatchers were far enough away not to be bothered by his presence.
At the lunchtime safari some kindly souls threw a bit of bread down for the gulls and Starlings right by where we were stood. We were a bit too close as the birds were very wary of coming down and kept swooping overhead. The light was worse than horrid; a low sea mist coated the promenade as can be seen from the greyness of the sky in these pics of a hungry Herring Gull. The Black Headed Gulls didn’t present a decent opportunity for a photo nor did the Starlings.
Out at sea the rising tide gave us a Great Crested Grebe drifting by through the troughs and a fair few Common Scoters, hard to count but probably in the region of 2-300 scattered about at all points of the compass – well not East, obviously!
We nearly stripped off and jumped in to rescue a dog swimming beyond the surf and frequently dipping under the waves. (Never but never do this!!! The dog often/usually survives and climbs out unscathed, shakes and trots off while the human ‘rescuer’ is carted off on a slab in an unmarked black van). After a while, as it got nearer, it began to look more like a small seal until eventually it was correctly identified as a piece of driftwood – just as well we didn’t dive in...maybe shoulda done....can’t let a good bit of firewood go to waste.
Back on Patch 1 as it was getting dark we didn't count the Magpies, but we did see the Peregrine come from the north to roost. A Goldcrest popped out of the line of large conifers and into the garden where we've heard it before and it really sounded like there was one already there from all the 'seeep seeep seeeping' coming from the treees.
Where to next? This is more like it - more of the same please.
In the meantime let us know if the dark clouds of birding depression have parted in your outback.